writes Luke Tambolinyoka
Today is President Nelson Chamisa’s 46th birthday. But the special day for the people’s leader comes at a time he has fittingly chosen to walk away from a now captured political institution called the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
Not surprisingly, in all its various manifestations some of which emerged in the past few days, the CCC has simply become a carcass, if not a dog’s breakfast.
The captured institution was first donated to one Sengezo Tshabangu who is still doing the regime’s bidding.
But with Chamisa walking away, there are now various versions of the CCC on the political market, including a very short lived version where one person claimed they were now the leader of the party.
Ordinary citizens still remain vexed whether ZANU PF is controlling all or some of the various versions of the CCC that are on the market..
Meanwhile, the e regime in Harare has gone rogue, to the extent that anything is now possible. In fact, so audacious has this regime become that it now strangely claims Chamisa no longer owns his own face. They now say his face is owned by Tshabangu.
As I have said elsewhere, when all arms of the State and paid Stooges connive to allege you don’t own your own face, perhaps it is high time you walked away with your own visage from the charade, as Chamisa has now done.
One cannot begrudge a man for walking away from a poisoned chalice; from such brazen political witchcraft.
It has also become apparent, in the wake of this muppet show, that a man’s political worth is judged by the quantum of the forces fighting him. That you have the three arms of the State in the Executive, the Judiciary and Parliament all colluding to compound their energies in fighting one man speaks to the enormity of his political capital.
Whatever his inadequacies, real and perceived, the fact is that Nelson Chamisa remains Zimbabwe’s best foot forward.
This week also coincided with the good news of the release from prison of Job “Wiwa” Sikhala.
Welcome home, Baba Fidel.
On the occasion of his birthday, and as Chamisa turns 46 and walks away from the CCC mish-mash, spawning curiosity, anxiety and uncertainty on Zimbabwe’s tenuous political market, I today re-publish an edited version of an earlier piece that I wrote sometime in 2018.
For Chamisa, the occasion of his birthday must not only be a moment to reflect on his political journey but must equally be an occasion for deep introspection and reflection as he awaits pronouncing the way forward to a restive nation.
Chamisa the person and Chamisa the moment
Chamisa the person was born on 2 February 1978. But Chamisa the moment was born in 2016 when Dr Morgan Tsvangirai appointed a then 38-year-old Adv. Nelson Chamisa as one of his two additional Vice Presidents.
Dr Tsvangirai appointed two additional deputies following his diagnosis with cancer of the colon on 27 June of the same year, which appointment signified a novel moment in the politics of a young country long used to gerontocracy or simply rule by old people.
From that day in August 2016, Dr Tsvangirai showed he was a modern leader alive to the dictates of 21st century politics in which the youth are not the leaders of tomorrow but are the leaders of today.
Since then, Chamisa, who celebrates his birthday today, has become more than just a political persona. He has infused an epic moment of generational re-invigoration that has reverberated well beyond the narrow precincts of his generation.
Through his appointment of Chamisa as one of his deputies, those of us who shared intimate discussions with Dr Tsvangirai and were privileged to sanctioned forays into his thinking knew the exact message he was sending to the world.
It was not just a message about his succession preferences but a harbinger of younger things to come; a sonorous pronouncement of a new political moment that would excite a hitherto unnoticed generation and the nation at large.
Two rigged Presidential elections where he was shown to have overwhelming national support have shaken the regime to the core.
From the outset, it was never about Chamisa the physical being, even though it was Chamisa the person who reaped the huge advantage for having been the loyal protégé who had traversed a long and arduous journey with the iconic political tutor since 1999.
Indeed, it was never about Chamisa the person, the protégé to an iconic political master called Morgan Tsvangirai.
It was always about Chamisa the moment.
When you pit persons against moments, it is always moments that triumph. For the moments that people spawn in their lifetimes have always been bigger and more phenomenal than their personalities.
Chamisa the person may have been the direct beneficiary of that mammoth gesture of being appointed into the cockpit of a then great people’s movement that he had helped found as its founding youth chairperson.
But for me, it is Chamisa the moment that has always been the more profound message.
True, there is a causal relationship between Chamisa the person and Chamisa the moment because the latter is a direct consequence of—and a derivative from—the former.
Yet it is the moment—and not the person—that appears to have struck both massive resonance and untold trepidation into the hearts of friend and foe respectfully..
The Chamisa moment represents an ostentatious generational entrance into the grand leadership politics of the country, particularly in a country where 60-year-olds are regarded as young.
The case of a then 61-year-old Absolom Sikhosana who in 2013 sat in the ZANU PF politburo as the party’s youth chairperson is a case in point. It must be stated that the 61-year-old Sikhosana was the same age as Dr Morgan Tsvangirai, who was running against Mugabe in the 2013 Presidential election.
Perhaps Dr Tsvangirai could have been a member of the party’s youth structures had he been Zanu PF. But that is an ironic story for another day.
Dr Tsvangirai’s appointment of Chamisa into the party Presidency represented and communicated newness, energy, freshness and transformation.
It is Tsvangirai, the doyen himself, who triggered the political moment that has excited Zimbabweans across the political spectrum.
Chamisa the moment is the true acme of youthful enthusiasm and dynamism that was discovered, nurtured and anointed by Dr Tsvangirai himself long before Zimbabweans endorsed him in two elections by well over four million votes, even by ZEC’s fudged figures.
Chamisa the person has his follies as a mortal being. But as a political epoch, the Chamisa moment has sought to represent a ground zero moment—-in simple terms a fresh and innocent start.
While Chamisa the person is mortal and has frailties like all of us, Chamisa the moment exudes pure virtue and innocence. The moment—and not the mortal person— represents a generational honesty and chastity incapable of sin and transgression.
Some points of Reflection
I shall write a detailed treatise on the points of reflection both for the birthday boy and the democratic movement at large. But given what has happened since 2018, including but not limited to the capture of the CCC, the citizens’ President must use the current hiatus and his birthday to reflect on several points.
Here, I will only mention three points that, in my humble opinion, must be points of reflection and introspection.
1.. Strategic ambiguity has its limits
I am one of the people who will vouch that there are many instances where ambiguity as a strategy worked wonders in keeping the regime guessing on certain processes, events, time-lines and roadmaps.
When dealing with securocratic regimes such as the one in Harare, not everything should be rallified or pronounced at public platforms. Ambiguity in the past campaign kept the regime guessing in many instances.
Indeed, there are times when there is dexterity in ambiguity. And we saw it in the past campaign.
But it is also true that ambiguity has its limits. There are times when being amorphous opens the flanks for the enemy
There are times when strategic clarity has more utility, times when it is un-strategic to be ambiguous as it sometimes creates room for occupation of spaces by paid surrogates.
Clarity, and not ambiguity, sometimes closes the spaces where weeds could have germinated!
2 . Trusted turfs too can be fertile grounds for infiltration
We had a situation where the popular Presidential candidate was a man of God and naturally, the church community across the country rooted for one of their own
The church became a trusted source of support for the citizens’ agenda. Pastors, church, elders, deacons and deaconesses all rooted for Chamisa in the past two elections.
But there must be a point of reflection.
The regime saw this and created Pastors for ED, Bishops for ED, Prophets for ED, Vapostori for ED, etc
The regime began infiltrating the church, which was part of the bedrock of Chamisa’s campaign. Some of the bishops , prophets, elders who turned up to purportedly support Mukomana were regime plants sent to compromise the citizens’ agenda.
This was an election in which an unprecedented number of pastors, prophets and church people were candidates.
Given that Zanu PF had created its own affiliates in this church community, some of the purported clergymen and clergy women who sang hymns and shouted our slogans sonorously were regime, even though they were granted an ear by the citizens’ leadership.
Some of the bishops and prophets that were listened to ended up compromising the citizens agenda. Some even received payments and were given houses by regime agents to sell out the citizens’ votes.
Indeed, Zanu PF exploited the church and used it as a conduit for infiltration, knowing fully well Mukomana had a soft spot for the clergy, being a pastor himself.
3. Protecting political institutions from infiltration, capture and abuse
Both the MDC Alliance and the CCC were heavily infiltrated and eventually captured by the regime.
I have written elsewhere that we cannot be creating new institutions every year only for ZANU PF to come and capture them.
The point of reflection must be how to guard future political institutions from capture by the regime. Infiltration can only be minimised but must not be allowed to happen within the top echelons of a political institution.
A birthday reflection point must be how to build a proper institution that is sufficiently immunised from regime infiltration, from capture and from abuse.
Indeed, the citizens’ institutions must be sufficiently insulated or else building a new political institution will become an annual preoccupation.
We cannot be creating institutions every year for Zanu PF to come and capture. This must end.
The person and the moment
Unlike Chamisa the person, Chamisa the moment exists in an intellectual sense of abstraction, it is an epitome of purity untainted by the mortal tinge of human fallibility of Chamisa the person.
Chamisa the person may falter because he is fallible,. But Chamisa the moment exudes a traction and buoyancy that has energised the country’s political base.
It is clear that Chamisa the moment is bigger and more phenomenal than Chamisa the person.
Zimbabweans across the political and generational divide appear to be appreciating the Chamisa moment that has engulfed the country.
Yet some have had the temerity to call it a cyclone but as a political scientist, I have always been sceptical and reticent of superlatives, particularly when used on mortal and fallible human beings.
Chamisa’s personal attributes of oratory and erudite articulation of issues notwithstanding, it is Chamisa the moment that has taken the country by storm. In fact, this treatise will argue that Chamisa the person, as a mortal being, should be wary of being an impediment to Chamisa the moment.
Indeed, Chamisa the person must enhance and not undermine Chamisa the moment!
In this decisive and crucial hour ahead of his pronouncement of the next steps, it behoves upon Chamisa the person to enhance the moment and not to impede it. The challenge is to perpetually fertilize and not to barrenize the land upon which the moment is ensconced.
The message on his birthday is to urge the people’s hope, Chamisa the person, not to drop guard of his political calculus. He must never take for granted the faith and trust Zimbabweans have reposed and continue to repose in him,
Whatever it takes, Chamisa the person must always enhance Chamisa the moment, even though this is difficult because all human beings are mortal and sometimes make mistakes, missteps and misjudgements.
As a person in whom the nation has invested so much hope and I write here as a political scientist Chamisa the person must strive to always increase the enormity of the political moment!
The enormity of the moment is dramatised by the popularity that met his excursions into the country’s rural hinterland as well as the massive resonance his political traction has spawned across the country in the past few years.
That the whole nation has fallen friends with Chamisa the moment is now preposterous. Chamisa the person, who turns 46 today, has his work cut out for him to maintain the enormity of the moment that we have witnessed in the past few years.
Chamisa the person is not only mortal but he is rational and calculating. His political decisions may wither close or open the way for the political tsunami that Chamisa the moment has become.
The challenge is Zimbabweans always expect Chamisa to always make the correct choices and decisions, which may be difficult because he is a mortal human being.
The decisions Chamisa the person takes may either widen or narrow the way of the sweeping Chamisa moment.
And Zimbabweans expect him to always make the correct decision.
In short, it is all up to Chamisa the person to either enrich or impoverish Chamisa the moment.
The demographic realities of the national voting population and the young population now eager to participate in politics go a long way in explaining why Chamisa the moment has swept across the country with huge aplomb.
Chamisa the person must continue to enhance –and not to impede–Chamisa the moment.
There appears to be an inter-generational consensus that in the not-so-distant future, the Chamisa moment will take us to the final resolution of the myriad political challenges that have bedevilled this country for many years.
Like the luminary and visionary that he was, Dr Morgan Tsvangirai had this giraffe blessing of peering into the political realities that lay ahead.
On 3 August 2016, in a historic speech to the then MDC’s national council following his appointment of Chamisa as Vice President, the doyen of democracy said:
“I took into consideration the fact that my visits across the country have revealed that the party has lost young voters , whether consciously or unconsciously.
“You agreed with me that I have to respond to that key constituency which now constitutes over 60 percent of the country’s voting population. We have to project the MDC as a modern, 21st century political party in which the youth can rise to the top ….”
Dr Tsvangirai had long seen the political dividend of Chamisa the moment which Chamisa the person may today, by his own acts of omission or commission, choose to either enhance or undermine.
The regime has tried to halt the momentum of the moment, but they have failed and they will continue to fail. They have abused, infiltrated, captured and compromised characters in the institutions he has led. But they have failed to diminish his brand.
Chamisa the moment as an idea is fast racing ahead and there is no one to stop it. It is only Chamisa himself, the person, or those around him, who can implode the moment through acts of omission and commission.
Indeed, to enrich or to impede the moment, that is the choice.
The occasion of his birthday today and his decision to walk away from the now tainted CCC provides him a perfect terminus to sit down, reflect and introspect on the past as he prepares to lead a hopeful nation into the future.
As English playwright William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet all those centuries ago:
“ To be or not to be , that is the question .”
Yes, Moyondizvo, the choice to either retard or enrich this enormous moment is entirely yours!
Thus far, we are on course as the country remains engulfed in the politics of Chamisa the moment, with its imminent prospects of bringing positive change in the lives of the ordinary citizens.
The unavoidable truth is that whatever frailties he may have, real or imagined, Chamisa remains Zimbabwe’s best foot forward. He needs our collective support and not our collective excoriation.
One swallow does not make a summer. We are in this together as Zimbabweans and we must assist Chamisa the person in enhancing Chamisa the moment so that together, we cruise into a new Zimbabwe armed with renewed hope and optimism .
Happy birthday, baba Ashley.
Luke Tamborinyoka is a citizen from Domboshava. You can interact with him on his Facebook page or on his X handle @ luke_tambo